Tourism Minister Clayton Bartolo has dismissed concerns about catering establishments flouting public health rules, saying that he is sometimes told that there is too much, rather than too little enforcement. 

Complaints about catering establishments in entertainment hotspots not respecting COVID-19 containment rules have increased in recent weeks, culminating with a police union publicly complaining about a lack of enforcement. 

Restaurants are currently not allowed to serve alcohol without food while anyone not sitting at a table must wear a mask at all times. Rules also set out strict limits on group numbers and the distance required between tables. 

Video: Claire Caruana

Bars, clubs and nightclubs are closed and will remain shut in February, the prime minister said earlier on Tuesday. But the Malta Police Association said earlier this month that the number of incidents being reported in places like Paceville indicated that the rules were not being enforced.  

Enforcement for such establishments is the responsibility of the Malta Tourism Authority, which falls under minister Bartolo's remit.  

But on Tuesday, Bartolo said he believed MTA inspectors were doing a good job and dismissed concerns about lax enforcement.  

Tourism Minister Clayton Bartolo. Photo: FacebookTourism Minister Clayton Bartolo. Photo: Facebook

"There are times when people tell me the opposite, that there is too much enforcement. We always seek to strike a balance and make sure that the MTA is doing a good job," Bartolo said. 

The minister was unable to say how many MTA inspectors would be patrolling establishments throughout the carnival period.  

He said: "It is not my job to know such numbers. There are people at MTA who are tasked with that and I let them do their job because I trust them." 

Earlier on Tuesday, Prime Minister Robert Abela said additional COVID-19 measures would be introduced for February, with special focus on the carnival weekend.

Abela did not provide details of the new measures or say when they would be announced. 

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